Shame List #25: The Shining (1980)

Shame List Introduction

The Shining is one of 31 films on my Shame List, a list composed of multiple classics and “must-see”- considered films for anyone who likes to consider him/herself a film buff. I created this list with only twenty films, and have added eleven films since by recommendations from friends and fellow movie fans. I’m always looking for recommendations, and my Shame List is my accountability to the movie blogging community that I have – and will – start watching these movies to earn my film buff status. A copy of the list can be found at my post here, and I’m updating per your recommendations, so please keep them coming!

Here’s my review of the third film I can cross off my Shame List:

I feel like I can wash my hands of the “shame” a bit after finally viewing The Shining (1980) for the first time. I always wondered where that haunting image of young Jack Nicholson originated. For someone who has seen movies of him only in his older years when he’s sporting gray hair, it was both a pleasure and a horror to see Nicholson in action in this classic horror film.

So I caught this movie back in October, right around Halloween. But I missed out on posting about it right when it was trendy to do so. So as Thanksgiving approaches with Christmas directly on its heels, here’s just a little summary of my thoughts on the classic horror film, The Shining.

Everyone has stuff to say about this movie. And nothing in this post is going to be purely original regarding the film. I truly wasn’t expecting what I saw, and that was probably what gave me the most joy in seeing it. It’s about a madman portrayed by Jack Nicholson, and frankly, with his balding head and crazy eyes, he seemed to have the role down pat.

It’s common knowledge that Stephen King didn’t care for this film adaptation by Stanley Kubrick. Having not read the book myself, I could only naively say that this is a good stand-alone film. Give me the original source material, and perhaps I could say otherwise. But at the end of the day, we’re talking two different mediums, two different viewpoints, and two different pieces of art. And I liked The Shining, even if didn’t pay the proper homage King was expecting or hoping for from Kubrick.

I think what makes the film so good, so iconic, are the performances alongside the eery score and setting. While there ought to be plenty of praise for the lead Jack Nicholson, I was most moved by Danny Lloyd’s performance of Danny, especially when his “friend in his mouth” took over. Children certainly have the chops to play multi-dimensional characters, and Lloyd’s portrayal was chilling.

I’ve wondered if Shelley Duvall has received as much praise as her costars, because she really does play the character that the audience relates with and roots for. For a while, I chalked her up to a simple housewife who didn’t know how to stand on her own. But of course, as time goes by and her husband has truly cracked and gone over to the side of madness, her character, Wendy, does take charge. It was so refreshing to see another female character be strong and courageous.

The Shining Maze

The maze played one of the most interesting set pieces I’ve seen in a film. We get to see it in both the fall and winter seasons, and I think the contrast in seeing it in both weathers really characterized the maze as either fun or terrifying. The hotel plays its own role in the film as both a haven and a terror for the characters, by playing monster to Wendy and Danny, and partner-in-crime to Jack when he starts to see visions of those who used to run the hotel.

While it seems like multiple people contributed to both the score and soundtrack, a large part of the job fell on the shoulders of music editor Gordon Stainforth, and I think he really delivered in matching the music passages to the scenes in the film.

Kubrick truly doesn’t let any one part of the film go to waste, having pulled out the stops in every area. It’s clear why The Shining has reached its iconic status. While it wasn’t necessarily my favorite film, it is one I would definitely revisit over the Halloween holiday. I recently read there were multiple scenes cut from the film, and I think that was a wise decision. At nearly two and a half hours, the run time had me getting a little impatient as the story built to its final act, and the race for Wendy and Danny to escape came to a halt.

I give The Shining

Eye Art1Eye Art1Eye Art1Eye Art1


It’s your turn now. What do you think of The Shining? Do you think King is justified in his disdain for this film adaptation? Where does The Shining rank on Stanley Kubrick’s filmography? And last, but certainly not least, what movie should I watch and cross off my Shame List next (list here)?

29 thoughts on “Shame List #25: The Shining (1980)

  1. Nice review! I loved the maze too. Shelley Duvall doesn’t seem to get as much recognition for her role but you’re right, she shows protective strength over her son when things start getting way out of hand. Everyone in the movie is fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed it. The Shining is the only horror movie I like. It’s more psychological than some slasher flick and doesn’t resort to lame jump scares.
    It’s way more beautifully shot than most horror too. I agree on the maze and Shelly Duvall. All the performances are good and the music or lack of in some scenes builds tension. Great movie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there! Thanks! Ya know, I can see why you would enjoy it more than the typical horror film. I think Kubrick’s style seems to edge more towards psychological than gruesome and bloody, which is great, I think.

      Yes, the film is shot brilliantly! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice to see you enjoyed it. It was also I movie I hadn’t seen until last year (basically because I’m not a fan of horror). I thought it was an amazing film, definitely one I want to rewatch in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d be happy if King just shut his mouth for once about how much Kubrick’s version sucks…

    The Shining is a genuine classic and an excellent movie in general. It is cool how you acknowledge that it wasn’t your favorite movie, but still admit that it is really good. That is how a critic should be in my opinion haha. (I hate when people fail good movies just because it wasn’t their cup of tea)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey TCM! I totally thought The Shining was an excellent film. Like, it’s not one of those movies that is going to make my top three favorite movies of all time, but truly, it’s just a great movie, if you ask me. I can see why it’s iconic. And I understand what you’re saying – Iwould agree too! Glad you enjoyed it too! 🙂


    • Aww, thanks, Keith! Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. I like the Shame List/Blindspot/”whatever you want to call it” idea, because it’s finally getting me to see all of these great movies that I just haven’t seen yet. It’s a lot of fun, too, because there are no expectations, because it seems like everyone’s already said everything about these movies.

      As for The Shining, I’m with you: it’s not a favorite, but it’s a classic, and it’s a solid movie that I appreciate. And perhaps once every few years, I’d give it another go.


  5. The character that Shelley Duvall plays is one of the major gripes Stephen King had with the adaptation, as well as the ending. The ending is supposed to involve something much, much more dramatic. I think as the writer of the original, King just had a very specific image of Wendy, and duvall (apparently) went in the opposite direction of that. And to be perfectly honest, she is, in an ironic way, a reason I appreciate the film even more. I cannot stand her as a character, I really cannot. I totally see King’s problem with her, and yet the film still holds up. It’s one of my favorite horrors, a genre I don’t find myself in too much.

    But I’m very happy to see you tick this one off The Shame List. 🙂 I’ll hopefully soon be on my way to checking out a couple, you know my list now too. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Tom! Ahh, that’s interesting. I never did enough research to know that that’s why King didn’t care for the film. I would really have to read the book to get a better understanding of it.

      I actually really liked Duvall’s performance in The Shining. I imagine she was directed and written to act as so, but I felt like she did have a small arc, but an arc nonetheless, in that she went from being the victim of an abuser to eventually outsmarting him and protecting her child, even if it didn’t happen until the very end of the film.

      Thanks – I’m happy to tick another one off it. Three down, twenty-eight to go! 🙂 Haha, yes: best of luck on working on yours! I’m sure you’ll have a blast, just like I am! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, very true. She does indeed have a character arc and I do like it when she clearly says “i’ve had enough of this,” and springs into action. Twenty-eight to go? Woof. Some list! Although, if I do commit to doing my list, it’s likely to be in two or three (or more) parts! So, I guess we’ll see! I see a very endless thread about to be started on DSB.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ooo, I like that, though! It’s fun to set goals, and then have this accountability with other movie lovers. It keeps you on your toes, but I think that’s a good thing. Plus, it introduces you to some great films out there! I know I’ll be staying tuned to see you tick films off your list. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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